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North Adams Has a New Mayor!

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Alice Mirante casts her ballot at St. Elizabeth's Parish Center on Tuesday. Projections are a 74 percent turnout because of the contested mayoral and council races. Top, a line at Greylock School waits to cast ballots.

Updated at 7:51 p.m.

North Adams handed Alcombright a decisive victory on Tuesday, giving him 3,046 votes to Barret's 2,166. All numbers are unofficial.

Alcombright supporters were riding along Main Street honking horns and yahooing out the windows as the state's longest-serving mayor prepared to bid farewell to the office he's held for 26 years.

We've started adding up the totals for city council, but don't have time to complete them. We'll get back to them ASAP.

Update: 6:18 p.m.

Took a trip to Pittsfield to check on that election. Not nearly as exciting as North Adams. If you thought it was crowded at St. Elizabeth's before, it twice as packed now.

Both sides of the street are lined with supporters waving signs; the mayor's still there. Over at Greylock School, there's a line - yes, a line - of people waiting to cast their ballots.

More than a thousand had already been cast when we were there 20 minutes ago. City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau said Ward 4 historically has a high vote rate but she's never seen lines like this for a city election.

"It's like the elections used to be way back, I've been told, but this the first time I've seen it," said Gomeau, between shooing voters toward the right doors. She also didn't think Bob Moresi's estimate of a 74 percent turnout would be too far off the mark.

Gomeau said voting was going smoothly despite the large numbers and that her team "is what makes all this happen." She particularly wanted recognize the workers from the city yard who did all the setup, along with the poll workers and police, for the good job they'd done.

We also caught up with Dick Alcombright, who's been busy running from ward to ward. He was headed back to St. Elizabeth's this time. He said he felt good about the turnout and his campaign, but repeated that "it's all in the hands of the voters."

Alcombright's election part is being held at the Eagles Hall; a peak through the lit windows as we drove by revealed table decked in white and green, the colors of his campaign.

Bill Blackmer, candidate Lisa Blackmer's husband, and Robert Moulton were also outside Greylock with more than a dozen other candidate supporters. We met Alan Marden coming out of the polling station at Greylock and had to ask, "did you give one vote to Al?" He did, but it's the only vote he would tell us.

Next up, we'll be back at St. Elizabeth (or, as we prefer to call it, St. Anthony's) for the next update. We've been having trouble with our laptop - thus the late update - but it seems to be working now.

Don't forget, NBCTC goes live at 7 for results and our media partner Charlie at WJJW will be back on the air at 7:30. He's been doing a terrific job today talking to candidates and others about the election.

Updated at 2 p.m, Nov. 3

NORTH ADAM, Mass. There's been a steady stream of voters at the city's three polling stations since they opened this morning at 9 a.m.

In fact, some were so eager they were waiting outside the doors before they opened — annoyed that they couldn't vote at 7, said poll worker Carol A. Robare.

"We've seen a lot of first-time voters," she said. "We've had to walk them through the process."



By noon, just under a 1,000 voters had cast ballots at the three wards at St. Elizabeth's Parish Center; two years ago, nearly 1,500 had ballots total had been cast. The numbers were similar at Ward 3 at the High Rise, where 344 had voted by 1 p.m.

Outside, more than three dozen people were holding signs for the two mayoral candidates and the 15 candidates running for City Council.

Mayor John Barrett III, who's in a tough race against challenger Richard Alcombright, was out with the crowd, the first time he's stood at the polls in some time. While not holding a sign, the mayor was greeting voters and upbeat about being re-elected to a record 14th term.

"I think we ran a good campaign," said Barrett. "People say we weren't doing anything but we worked all summer planning our strategy and and kicked off the campaign on Labor Day."

The state's dean of mayors believes the two debates, his television commercials and mailings got his message out to the voters.

For David Lamarre, who's running for the first time for City Council, the election's offered some different experiences.

"I've done a lot of things I never dreamed of doing, like standing up in forums and speaking and writing position papers," he said. "This whole experience has been great."

We haven't run into Alcombright yet, but we'll try for some comments from him. In an interview with WJJW earlier in the day, Alcombright told host Charlie Schnitzlein he'd had fun but the race was out of his hands in the voters at this point.

Schnitzlein is also hoping Barrett will stop by or call into his show at 4 p.m., or at any point he has time. Anyone can call in and talk about the election with Charlie at 413-662-5110.

Posted at 10:31 p.m., Monday, Nov. 2, 2009





There was last-minute campaigning Monday on Main Street as candidates - mostly newcomers - looked for support today.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — There a real possibility that North Adams citizens could have their first new mayor in 26 years by evening's end - or not.

John Barrett III, the longest-serving mayor in the state's history, knows how to win elections. After all, he's claimed victory in 13 straight. But all eyes are on the state's smallest city today as popular City Councilor Richard Alcombright attempts to dethrone him.

The City Council could also be in for an upset as a strong field of challengers tries to shoulder their way into the nine-member council. There'll be at least two new faces this time round as seven incumbents face off against eight challengers.

Running unopposed are Heather Boulger, John Hockridge and Mark Moulton for School Committee and Paul Gigliotti and Gary Rivers for McCann School Committee.

Poll workers and the city clerk's office were busy today preparing for an expected heavy turnout, the likely the highest since Barrett was challenged for the second time by Paul Babeu in 2001. Just over 60 percent voted in that election, but Robert Moresi of the Board of Registrar of Voters is hoping for even better this time, certainly better than the paltry 18 percent that voted two years ago.

"It's going to be a close race," predicted Moresi. "I think 74 percent turnout. That may be a little on the high side, but if the weather's nice more people could come out."

According to the National Weather Service, Tuesday will be partly cloudy with highs in the 50s and rain in sight for a change.

"I think we've got a good setup at the polls," said Moresi, reminding voters that Wards 1,2 and 5 are now all located at St. Elizabeth's Parish Center now that both Conte Middle School and Notre Dame Church have closed. There are some 9,024 voters registered in the city, up nearly 500 from two years ago. Polls are open from 9 to 7.




  • Ward 1, 2 and 5: St. Elizabeth's Parish Center
  • Ward 3: Ashland Street Apartments
  • Ward 4: Greylock Elementary School

The mayoral candidates have planned their victory parties: Barrett will be at the American Legion and Alcombright at the Eagles Hall.

iBerkshires will be updating with news and photos throughout the day. You can also follow the election news with our new media partner WJJW 91.1-FM at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts throughout the day and with our old media partner the Berkshire News Network beginning at 7 p.m. on LIVE 95.9 and 1420 WBEC, 100.1 FM WUPE and 1230 WNAW.

Most voting totals are unofficial.




John Barrett III

Richard Alcombright
Ward 1
Ward 2  468  650
Ward 3  304  487
Ward 4  578  699
Ward 5  378  574
Total  2,166  3,046






City Council Ward 1 Ward 2 Ward 3 Ward 4 Ward 5 Total

Lisa Blackmer







Michael Bloom







Ron Boucher
 493  551  343  665  435  2,487

Gailanne Cariddi
 652  711  486  804  577  3,230

Marie Harpin
 590  640  424  700  547  2,901

Alan Marden
 518  572  357  701  464  2,612

Robert Moulton
 493  525  342  605  449  2,414
Michael Boland
 518  647  429  670  477  2,741
Keith Bona
 523  556  361  517  486  2,443


See story
David Bond






Eric Buddington






Brian Flagg







David Lamarre
 537  501  349  628  431  2,446



See story

Gregory Roach
 280  276  214  290  234  1,294

Dennis Whitney
 420  444  285  470  398  2,017


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Adams COA, Town Seek Funds for Memorial Building Bathrooms

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff

ADAMS, Mass. — The Council on Aging is still waiting to transition its programming from the Visitor Center to the Memorial Building and is looking to the Community Development Department for help. 

The COA has been waiting for additional bathroom facilities to be completed for the facility, but the council and the town have so far been unable to obtain grant or other funding for the work.


COA Director Sarah Fontaine said they are working with Community Development to find funds for the bathrooms and other small improvements, including increased entrance accessibility, renovations to the former music room and fixed windows. 


"I had voiced my concern. It's a very extensive list, I don't expect that it will all be done before we transition over. The only need is the bathrooms," Fontaine said. 


At last week's Board of Selectmen meeting, Community Development Director Eammon Coughlin said he looked into using Community Development Block Grant funds for the project. He said, however, that the Memorial Building is ineligible.


"The guidance we received from [the state Department of Housing and Community Development] has basically told us that the building is ineligible for funding because we already received funding in 2018," he said. "There has to be five years between the application for senior-center type projects. So based on that guidance, I don't believe Memorial School is eligible for funding."  


Fontaine also mentioned the auditorium in the building, which the town plans to renovate separately as a future capital project. 


"It would be nice as a senior center to have the auditorium available for guest lectures and other things like that," she said. 


Moving staff to the Memorial Building now while keeping programming at the Visitor Center, Fontaine said, is not an option. She noted that the Hoosac Valley Regional School District had previously expressed interest in using the second floor of the Visitor Center for its office space. 


"I was very firm in saying, logistically, it's hard for us to manage things just being upstairs. It's going to be very difficult if we're off site to try and manage programs downstairs," she said. 


In other business: 


  • The Council on Aging is looking for volunteers to fill vacancies on its advisory board. It filled one of the vacancies on Wednesday, appointing Barbara Ziemba. Ziemba, an active participant in the COA, had already filled out the paperwork needed for her appointment. 


"I have attended many COA activities, volunteer, and am a member of the Friends of the Council on Aging and attend meetings. I have been interested in being a member of the Board of Directors for some time. Please consider my appointment to the board," Ziemba wrote, explaining in her paperwork why she was interested in the position.           


The group also discussed two other vacancies on the board and potential candidates to fill them. Two members have been unable to attend recent meetings for health reasons. 


  • The board voted to approve updated bylaws. The bylaws were revised and written primarily by Board Member Elizabeth Mach. 


"I just wanted to make a comment, or rather an appreciation, for Liz for taking this project on," Fontaine said. 


The new bylaws have a provision to allow honorary members. Fontaine said there are currently no honorary members. 


The board appointed Bruce Shepley as the board's chair to replace Barbara Lagowski, who filled one of the now vacant member seats. 

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